German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 announced this morning that it has taken full control of Joyn, the streaming joint venture it launched with Discovery in 2017. Joyn has bought out Warner Bros Discovery’s share of the company, though the exact fee has not been disclosed.
Joyn’s fate had been somewhat uncertain since Discovery’s merger with WarnerMedia was first announced. The combined Warner Bros Discovery looked intent on unifying its streaming offering, announcing earlier this year that its popular HBO Max brand will be shuttered in favour of a combined service with Discovery+. Joyn’s place in this setup was never defined.
Now, Joyn will sit as a wholly-owned subsidiary within ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE’s Entertainment business. The streaming business, which is currently loss making, will at first put extra strain on ProSieben’s finances, due to the need to fully fund the platform itself. But ProSieben says that in the longer term, full acquisition of Joyn will have big benefits, allowing the broadcaster to place Joyn as the centrepiece of its digital offering.
An amicable agreement
Truth be told, Joyn has felt more like ProSieben’s project than Discovery’s for the past few years, despite their equal ownership. While ProSieben sold off its existing broadcaster video on-demand (BVOD) service Maxdome in order to fully commit to Joyn, Discovery rolled out its SVOD service Discovery+ in Germany in June. ProSieben was willing to sacrifice its own streaming venture for the good of Joyn, Discovery clearly was not.
The deal seems to make sense for both companies, allowing Discovery to focus on its new streaming strategy as Warner Bros Discovery, while enabling ProSieben to go all-in on Joyn. Warner Bros Discovery’s ad-free content will remain on Joyn for the time being, though that may change in the future depending on how Discovery+ evolves.
Now, ProSieben will be able to integrate Joyn more closely into its overall offering. “We are integrating our streaming platform more closely with our influencer business and our brands from the Dating & Video and Commerce & Ventures segments,” said Rainer Beaujean, CEO of ProSiebenSat.1 Media.
ProSieben executives say this tighter integration will have a number of benefits.
On the content front, ProSieben says the content produced by its media division can be used “in a more flexible, user-friendly, and profitable manner” across all channels. Previously, calculations around where to invest in and distribute content would have been complicated by Joyn. The platform has significant reach, with over 30 million app downloads and four million unique users. But as a jointly-owned streamer, returns from content distributed via Joyn were split with Discovery.
Now, strategic decisions around content distribution will be simpler, without concerns about Joyn’s growth coming at the expense of ProSieben’s wholly-owned businesses.
ProSieben says full-ownership of Joyn will benefit its advertising business too. The broadcaster will be more free to offer cross-media ad products and packages which bundle content across ProSieben’s owned and operated products, including its linear channels, Joyn, and its various other digital products.